My next list of five items is one that is very near and dear to my heart; it is my top five ways that a magician can improve his show. I am going to make this a short and sharp column because I have written individually about all the items on this list before, and in some cases at quite great length. However in my personal goal of condensing my thoughts on magic into five groups of five it would be incorrect of me not to state them again.
The greatest way to improve any show is to spend some serious time deciding what you want the audience to take away with them after the show is done. Once you have analyzed your conclusion then the easiest way to bring it to being is to focus on the things that help and hinder your audience in their reactions to your magic.
Focusing what you say and do during your performance is the golden key to achieving your greatest potential as an entertainer. If you are fuzzy in your methods and application then it is very unlikely that you will ever really achieve the goals that you set yourself. I know that classically ‘the three golden rules’ of being a magician are ‘practice, practice and practice, but I truly believe the three golden rules to being an effective and entertaining magician are ‘focus, focus, focus.’
It is vital for a magician to make his magic as visible as possible to the audience. We often spend hours in front of a mirror practicing a routine/move and end up worrying more about what we are seeing and not nearly enough about ways that we can help our audience get a better visual grasp of what is going on. Sometimes this can be as simple as adjusting the height at which we hold a prop or the angle that we present our effects to the viewers. The simplest guideline is that if they can’t see it then they won’t like it.
It is almost impossible to edit your performance too tightly. It is very easy to fall in love with of words and actions without every fully realizing that this has happened. If you can achieve something with less words or actions then the over all effect is probably going to be much simpler and easier for an audience to grasp. This in turn will strengthen the impact of what you do and enhance the enjoyment of the audience.
The old saying amongst gardeners is to prune a rose bush as if it belonged to your worst enemy. Be ruthless and cut it way back and the roses will flower all the more spectacularly next season–a fine metaphor for cutting back on any redundancy in your show.
The very best way to achieve any result in a magic show is to search for the simplest method that can achieve the strongest method. Always distance yourself from what you personally feel about a trick and try and focus on what the audience is going to see and feel. I am certainly not suggesting that you dumb a trick down just to make it easier to perform, just have an ethic of simplicity that prevents you from the cardinal sin of over complication.
if there is a less complicated way to achieve any given effect then there is probably a lot to be said for taking that route to your destination. At the very least there is probably less chance of it going wrong (enemy number one!) and more available time and attention to spend on your presentation.
As magicians we obviously love magic and everything that it entails— otherwise we wouldn’t devote our lives to it. It is always worth remembering that there are a great many people who are not quite as excited about being fooled.
There are people who are not particularly fond of comedians, however a great many more people like to laugh than be fooled. Our job is to tie up the magic in a nice little entertainment package that is of maximum enjoyment to the largest amount of people. Our goal should never be the trick but rather the way that trick affects the audience.